WASHINGTON — Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) is advancing the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic’s investigation into dangerous gain-of-function research by pressing the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) to reveal all coronavirus-based and gain-of-function research connected to the University’s work or conducted in coordination with individuals or institutions in China. Legislation has been recently introduced before the Wisconsin State Legislature which would ban universities from conducting gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens. Given UW’s extensive history of unsafe laboratory incidents involving the manipulation of deadly diseases and the improper handling of highly contagious viruses, their opposition to this legislation is more than concerning.
Mounting evidence continues to suggest that COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, making it critical for the Select Subcommittee to investigate any U.S.-based institution with a history of conducting scientific research in unsafe and inadequately regulated environments to better protect our Nation’s national security.
“UW has already shown it has the capabilities to modify pathogens and make them more dangerous. In 2011, Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka revealed to the world that he had modified the deadly avian H5N1 influenza virus so it could spread between ferrets. This experiment enabled the bird virus to spread more easily among mammals, particularly ferrets which most closely mimic human response to the flu. The H5N1 virus is a ‘potential pandemic pathogen,’ which through modification or handling could cause another global pandemic,” wrote Chairman Wenstrup.
Read Chairman Wenstrup’s letter to University of Wisconsin Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin here.